Out of the Many, One

Illustration: Recently I was teaching from Psalm 14 to fellow Soldiers. I tend to ask a lot of questions when I teach. This time was no different. I posed several questions before I turned them to the Scriptures: “Would you characterize our nation as united or divided?” “Does our culture favor self-discipline or self-fulfillment?” “Does our culture understand the difference between liberty and libertinism?” The Soldiers all said the same things. They saw reality, too. The handwriting is more than just on the wall. It’s on the radio, on your TV, on your social media feeds, in your advertising, in your “news,” in people’s minds, and on people’s tongues. It’s inescapable.

What’s at stake? Civility, self-governance, the West, and beyond. Will America be in the future as she has been in the past–the freest and most generous nation in history? Certainly sinful, certainly flawed, certainly guilty of horrors committed against one another, especially against boys and girls in the womb, but still, “the last best hope of the earth,” as Lincoln wrote.

Segue: Like a few others I know, I have been very fortunate to travel to scores of nations. As a boy, my dad had a career that enabled us to live abroad and/or travel quite a bit. Then in my college and graduate school days, I was able to experience much of the globe. And of course, the Army has kindly seen fit to send me and thousands of my fellow patriots to some interesting locations, too, that we need not go into here. But not once have I seen hordes of people trying to enter any of them, except America. Here, armies of people labor to get in. The walk, swim, tunnel, lie, bribe, and many do it the right way—legally. Praise God for legal immigration. The country is better because of legal immigration.

But to return to the opening questions, do we see unity as the emerging theme? Do you sense E Pluribus Unum? “Out of the Many, One” is the meaning … that we are a nation comprised of disparate people groups and individual worldviews, yes, but one in which we find a larger unifying identity in the identity as Americans. Is that the message heralded today? Or is it something altogether antithetical to E Pluribus Unum?  When I read the news online, what I see is school curricula indoctrinating students that people are only to be judged by skin color. What? No longer are we to learn from Rev. King’s plea that we would judge people by the content of their character instead of the color of their skin? Nope, that’s now folly to the woke mobs. Really? Is this what we’ve come to?

I refuse to accept that most folks are like this. I just don’t see it in my daily life. I’ve been in the Army for just under 20 years, and I’ve seen the mixture of races get along just fine. Why? We have a common identity that is larger than our individual differences. We’re a team. We train together, eat together, PT together, sleep in the field together, fly on the same aircraft together, drill together, deploy together, and some even pray and worship God together.

And yet there is an insidious worldview that is undermining the nation, its military, and its own ethos. When people’s value is determined based on secular/humanistic criteria, people’s value is reduced. Why? Because there is no fixed standard in secular humanism. Will it be your standard or Mao’s? Will it be Rev. MLK’s standard or Margaret Sanger’s? You see, secular humanism is just that—secular, earthly, godless, and linked only to mere preferences. It is always shifting, always in flux, rudderless.

This is why David’s salvo begins thus: “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). You see, the Bible, unlike secular human opinion, is the plumb line, the canon, the fixed standard. It teaches that when one rejects God and his revealed will, he becomes a fool. It’s spitting in the wind to reject God and then expect blessing. One cuts himself off from the fountain of wisdom and then wonders why folly abounds.

Why the call to return to wisdom and to God’s revealed will? Because God is the Author of life (Acts 3:15). Because God is the creator and sustainer. Because God knows what is best—for us, for the planet, for marriage, for family, for stewardship, and for human flourishing. Because God is—wait for it—good. As the apostle John, who lived alongside Jesus for years, wrote, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all,” (1 John 1:5).

Takeaway: How might we recapture the wisdom of “Out of the Many, One”? How might we recapture the wonder of what it means to see the blessing of God instead of his judgment? How might we realize that race is a thing but not the primary thing about us? How might we rise to become, not a nation and culture divided by melanin, by sexual ‘identity’, and by our levels of being offended (intersectionality)?

I was reading an article the other day by a thinker I appreciate deeply. He is a scholar in history and he wrote something that I copied down in my journal: “One of the most important reasons for studying history is that virtually every stupid idea that is in vogue today has been tried before and proved disastrous before, time and again” (Thomas Sowell). That is about as clear as one could ask for.

Encouragement: Out of the Many, One? There is a way. It is found in God, beloved. Listen to words from the apostle John’s pen:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” (Revelation 7:9-14)

There is a way that seems right to a man, but Scripture teaches that fallen man’s way leads him to death (Proverbs 14:12). There is another way, however. It’s God’s way. May God be pleased to grant many people ears to hear … because one day we will see folly for what it is, and God will be shown the be the Judge of all the earth who does only what is right, and the ransomed from every nation, tribe, people, and language will sing in unified praise.

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